Friday, April 15, 2016

Cessna U206F Stationair, N1346Q: Incident occurred April 15, 2016 off Haulover Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida


Date: 15-APR-16
Time: 14:26:00Z
Regis#: N1346Q
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 206
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Miami FSDO-19
State: Florida


From left: Sandra Rasmussen, Carol Rasmussen

A small Bahamas-bound plane with three passengers Friday lost power between Florida and the Bahamas, in the middle of the Gulf Stream, causing the plane to crash into the water around 10:30 a.m.

The pilot was able to navigate the crash near a yacht, owned by Sandra Rasmussen, 79, of Des Moines.

"They don't know what happened," said one of the yacht passengers and Sandra's daughter-in-law, Carol Rasmussen, 52, of Ojai, Calif. Carol said the pilot told her it had been a reliable plane up until that point. "It was pretty genius on his part (to steer the crash near them)."

Sandra and Carol said the plane pilot had his own life raft that he quickly deployed and he and the survivors boarded.

Sandra said the yacht captain did not see the plane "so much as a splash," and, knowing something was wrong, he began traveling north.

"If we had been just a little further back, it would have been very hard to see that little yellow raft," Sandra said. "I'm very grateful we were where we were. I think God had something to do with it."

The yacht was about a mile and a half away from where the plane hit water, Carol said. They reached the survivors in under 10 minutes and were able to get them on board. The plane sank in about four minutes.

"Every once in a while you could see this little boat and then it would be gone," Carol said. "We made a beeline for this raft … it felt like an hour."

The survivors "didn't have a scratch on them," Carol said, describing the group as calm.

The plane passengers were heading to a birthday party. One of the survivors was a 17-year-old girl who had never been on a plane before, Carol said. Sandra added the girl did not know how to swim.

Sandra said a medical responder who arrived later checked out the survivors, adding the girl was shaking and close to shock.

The Rasmussen family was bringing the yacht back to Fort Lauderdale, where it stays in the off-season, from the Bahamas. Carol said the yacht is 105 feet long and carried eight passengers, including crew, prior to picking up the survivors.

Sandra said she had been on the yacht since January. She returned to Iowa on Saturday where, with the exception of family trips, she will stay through August.

"It is some of the best water in the world for boating, honestly," Sandra said about the Bahamas area.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Three people were rescued by good Samaritans on a yacht after a Cessna plane crashed in the ocean, east of the Haulover Inlet, Friday.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Cessna 206 plane crashed into the waters 22 miles east of Aventura, at approximately 10:30 a.m. The pilot had reported engine problems, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft had departed Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport en route to Bimini in the Bahamas.

The three people on board the the plane were rescued by people aboard a yacht called the Free Spirit. The boaters witnessed the plane plummet into the ocean and headed toward the crash scene to help.

A passenger on the yacht described the captain's swift rescue. "I was down below, and the captain saw the plane go down, saw the waves break and he beelined to them pretty quickly," he said. "There were three people on the life raft, and he got them on board pretty quickly. Everyone was unscathed."

Speaking with reporters, yacht owner Sandra Rasmussen said she was glad to be able to come to the passengers' rescue. "I really can't give you the odds, but I praise God we were there because if we left there just a little bit earlier or a little bit later, we would not have seen it, and we would not have been able to do what we did."

"We made sure that they had water and blankets and towels, and they were just very grateful," said boater Carol Rasmussen.

Once the three people were rescued from the water, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue sent two paramedics via fire boat to the yacht to evaluate those rescued.

Those rescued were not injured. "I expected to see at least some bruises and cuts, and actually, there were no bruises, no cuts," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue paramedic Eli Malcon.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue waited for the yacht to arrive with ambulances at the 15th Street Fisheries inside Lauderdale Marina in Fort Lauderdale. Once the yacht docked, rescuers confirmed no one needed transport to the hospital.

The survivors said they were grateful to be back on dry land. When asked whether she feels lucky to be alive, a woman who was on board replied, "Thank God for life." 

Family members said the Cessna's passengers may have been traveling to the Bahamas to celebrate a birthday.

The FAA will investigate the crash.

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The yacht Free Spirit pulling into a dock in Fort Lauderdale.

Luckily for the three people aboard a Cessna that crashed offshore after leaving Fort Lauderdale Friday morning, nearby yachties saw the aircraft splash into the ocean and raced to their rescue.

With an eye on the plane's tail protruding from the water, the luxury yacht's captain gunned it full throttle for 10 minutes until they got to the survivors bobbing in a life raft and plucked them from the sea, the yacht owner said.

The trio — a man, woman and a teenage girl from Bimini — were in good condition and did not require hospitalization when the yacht docked at a Fort Lauderdale boat landing about 12:30 p.m.

"They look good. They're in good health and in good spirits," said Lt. Lisa Bullard, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. "They're pretty lucky."

It was about 10:15 a.m. when the single-engine Cessna 206 crashed about 25 miles off of Haulover Inlet in north Miami-Dade County after leaving Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport enroute to Bimini, officials said.

"The pilot reported engine problems," Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said via email. The agency will investigate the crash, she said.

"The [yacht] captain saw the tail end, he saw a huge splash, and we're always looking for huge splashes because that means fish, but it wasn't a fish, it was a plane," said Carol Rasmussen, the yacht owner's daughter-in-law.

The captain of the Free Spirit, a 105-foot North Star yacht, took a hard right turn and opened up the throttle to reach the downed plane within 10 minutes, said Ian Rivero, a family friend of the Rasmussens.

"We kept our binoculars on the life raft," Rasmussen said. "Every once in a while we could see a head and by the time they got to the boat we did see three people."

From the yacht they threw a life ring, went to the life raft in a pontoon and brought the three aboard. The male pilot and his two passengers, a mother and her teen daughter, remained calm and repeatedly thanked their rescuers, Rasmussen said.

"They were very happy, very grateful and, well, obviously in shock," she said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue sent a boat to the yacht while it was still at sea, a paramedic boarded and assessed the survivors' conditions. The girl's heart was racing and the paramedic chalked it up to shock, Carol Rasmussen said.

"Every rescue is different but they were very lucky and the way the seas work, and to land the plane without having any serious injuries is pretty good," said Eli Melcon, of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Paramedics also met the yacht when it docked at 1784 SE 15th St. but nobody required hospitalization, said Capt. Greg May, of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue.

The three met with customs agents aboard the yacht then relocated to the marine patrol station at the landing. They are making arrangements to return home to Bimini.

"I really can't give you the odds but I praise God we were there, because if we had left just a little bit earlier or a little bit later, we would not have seen it and we would not have been able to do what we did," said yacht owner, Sandra Rasmussen, 79, of Des Moines, Iowa. "We're just very, very grateful that we could help them."

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